One-day internationals (3): New Zealand 2, Australia 0
In the build-up to this series, neither country seemed bursting with enthusiasm for 50-over cricket. Their last meeting, in Australia in December, had been a one-sided affair, New Zealand yielding the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy 3-0. Soon after, it was announced that one of the scheduled rematches would morph into a Twenty20 triangular tournament in 2017-18 also involving England. Meanwhile the lustrous Big Bash League, which finished two days before the first match, in Auckland, continued to distract from the international stage.
The sense of apathy was compounded by selection: Australia had a Test tour to India on their minds, and rested David Warner and Usman Khawaja. Steve Smith was also left out, after spraining an ankle. His replacement was not Cameron White, recently named domestic one-day Player of the Year, but Sam Heazlett, a 21-year-old left-hander who had not even appeared in a 50-over game for his native Queensland. White suggested the national side had come to resemble a development team, and questioned whether weight of runs in state cricket was being ignored in favour of form in the BBL. His comments drew support from former players, but the chairman of selectors, Trevor Hohns, who had worked with Heazlett in his previous role as Queensland talent manager, defended the decision: he said White had been picked as a young man himself and given plenty of opportunities, but performed "OK without being earth-shattering".
There was more shuffling when Matthew Wade, captain in place of Smith, pulled out with a back injury on the morning of the first game; Aaron Finch led the side. Yet the series had its moments, particularly the epic denouement in Auckland, where Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis won the favour of a partisan crowd, if not quite the match. Napier's squelching turf meant things sagged in the middle, but New Zealand held their nerve at Hamilton, where Ross Taylor and Trent Boult swung a tense encounter, as New Zealand regained the trophy at the first opportunity.
Match reports for